Goodbye to All That: The Demise of Globalization and Imperial Pretensions by Charles Hugh Smith for Of Two Minds
GNN Note – If ever there was time that exposed how sick and twisted “globalization” is that time is now.
The decline phase of the S-Curve is just beginning.
Globalization and Imperial Pretensions have been decaying for years; now the tide has turned definitively against them. The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t cause the demise of globalization and Imperial Pretensions; it merely pushed the rickety structures over the edge.
It’s human nature to reckon the current trend will continue running more or less forever, and that temporal, contingent structures are permanent. Globalization flourished because a unique set of conditions created fertile ground for the transfer of production to China and other emerging economies and the global expansion of the magic elixir of skyrocketing consumption, credit.
Credit-starved economies which are suddenly flooded with credit (for example, China) experience an explosion of investment in production, infrastructure and in business and household consumption.
In this boost phase of globalization, capital flows from stagnant developed economies to emerging economies to earn higher returns, and production moves to these low-cost economies to take advantage of low labor costs and lax environmental standards.
It’s a win-win dynamic for credit-starved emerging economies and stagnant developed economies, as the emerging economies get investment capital, jobs and technology transfers while the developed economies get higher profits due to the lower production costs and lower-priced goods and services.
Put another way: globalization is simply one manifestation of the financialization of the global economy. Developed-world central and private banks create trillions of dollars in fiat currencies that then slosh around the world, seeking the highest return. Whatever can be exploited in the short-term is exploited and then capital moves on, leaving environmental destruction and distorted economies in its wake.
Alas, the virtuous-cycle boost phase financialization soon burns through all the easy gains and then speculative gains replace productive gains: since over-investment in production has led to over-capacity and near-zero profits, capital flows into speculative gambles and money-pit bridges to nowhere that do little to actually boost the productivity of the real-world economy.
This transition from investing in higher productivity to pouring money into speculative bets is so gradual that few even recognize the transition until it’s too late. All too quickly the economy becomes dependent not on gains in productivity–the only enduring source of wealth creation– but on speculative gambles paying off.